CIMA E3 Guide : Syllabus | Pass Rates | Exam Structure | Tips

By  •  Updated: 10/18/22 •  6 min read

Did you know that the success rate from the E3 exam is higher than all the other OT exams from the Strategic level? Good news for E3 students, but there is still room for failure. Here at the Academy, we want to eliminate all chances of that happening, so we’re going to dive into the E3 exam, the overall exam structure and take a look at ways in which you can increase your chances of success.

What are the pass rates for the E3 exam?

It is evident from official statistics that E3 had a substantially higher than average pass rate last year, while at the same time, P3 and F3 had only a very slightly higher than average pass rate. This may be concerning for students of the latter two, but fear not, because our students here at Practice Tests Academy are most likely to be in the success bracket!

What are the objectives of the E3 exam?

You must be wondering why this level is so important to the CIMA exam. The objectives of the E3 exam should make this clear.

Objectives of the E3 exam:

  • To equip you with skills for long-term decision-making
  • To evaluate and manage risks that might prevent organisations from successfully implementing strategy
  • Value organisations
  • Source financial resources required to implement a strategy

In what order should I take the strategic level exams? Should I go for the E3 paper first?

The order in which you take the exams is up to you.

What do we suggest? We suggest starting with F3, then P3, and then E3. Why? The reason for this is because of the case study exam.

The E3 paper is all about strategic management, such as formulating strategy for business, P3 is all about risk management such as analysing and managing strategic risks, and the F3 paper is all about financial strategy, which includes assessing organizational value.

What does the E3 syllabus contain?


E3 is all about where we want to be as a business and how we’re going to get there.

– Pete (PTA Expert)


The structure of the course is optimistic. It’s about what the business can do to grow and to flourish.

It’s split into three main parts

  • Where do we want to be?
  • Where are we now?
  • How are we going to get there?

In E3, we come up with ideas, which is essentially a creative process. But we have models and frameworks to help us generate ideas.

Then, we have ways of assessing those ideas to see which ones are better than others using the concept of SAF (Suitable, Acceptable and Feasible).

We have methods and frameworks to work through to help whittle down our potential choices into one or maybe two other strategies for more detailed consideration.

When we decide which strategy we’re going to do, we put it in place and that involves change management, which involves looking at people and projects and how we bring hearts and minds along with us as a business.

What is the structure of the E3 exam?

The E3 exam is 90 minutes long and contains 60 questions. If we apply simple maths, we get 1.5 minute per question. By this calculation, you should aim to complete 10 questions every 15 minutes.

You need to score at least 100 marks out of 150 marks to pass the exam.

Types of questions to expect on the exam day –

  • Multiple choice questions (You have to select one correct answer from a group.)
  • Multiple response questions (They are similar to multiple choice questions but you have to select one or more than one correct answer.)
  • Drag and drop questions (You have to drag an answer from a group into its correct space.)
  • Fill in the blank (You have to calculate your own answer and then enter it into the blank space.)


You can sign up to our free package and get an idea of the question types that you will encounter in your real exam. Our free package contains a mix of questions and detailed answers from our course, which have been hand-picked especially for you.

Other important features of CIMA E3 exam are:

  • E3 exam is a computer-based exam
  • There is no partial marking. (No scores for half complete answers)
  • Results are declared immediately after the exam.
  • You can book the exams throughout the year.

What to do if I’m struggling to answer any of the questions?

Let’s have a look at some of the things that you can do during an exam if you’re struggling to answer any of the questions. Now first and foremost, try to eliminate answers that you know are wrong. Then, progressively work backwards using the options that you have left available.

Figure out which one makes more sense when trying to get to the root of each one and you may find that it could even trigger a reminder for you so that you can get that correct answer in your head. In the worst-case scenario, if you do see two possible answers that are quite similar and you’re really unsure then one of them is often correct. Though not always, it does happen.

If you’re still stuck, flag that question and move on. Then, near the end of your exam, in the last five minutes, go back and answer all flagged questions even if that means you have to guess.

E3 is a word-heavy paper. E3 has longer question scenarios. There’s a lot of reading to do. You must keep following things in mind while attempting a question –

Look for clues that are in the questions

  • Watch out for keywords that could possibly trap you (e.g., always, never, etc.)
  • Don’t misunderstand the question.
  • Manage your time efficiently. If it is taking too long, flat the question and move on.
  • Don’t leave any answers blank.

Some study tops for E3 from us

Book the exam at the start of study – Knowing that you have a goal or deadline to meet can really help you stay motivated.
Practice on a computer – Practice questions and mock exams from the start and do them on a computer under exam conditions.
Time yourself – You should keep track of your time or just make sure you’re doing those mocks under timed conditions.
Cover whole syllabus– Cover your whole syllabus and use your revision time wisely.
Learn mainly through question practice – Keep practicing questions while studying and during your revision sessions.
Focus on what you can’t do – Focus on the areas where you lack knowledge in, keep track of those questions and go back and redo them later.